Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Columbia Heart Beat -- 7/17/08

Paperless News for Columbia's Blogs and Listservs

County Countdown: 20 Days to the August 5th Primaries

EMPTY RHETORIC: Belies County's Poor Planning
KIDS QUESTION CANDIDATES: Assessor Candidate Barbara Bishop
RYAN FERGUSON/KEVIN CRANE SHOCKER: Key Witness Says Testimony Suppressed
ASSESSOR BLOWOUT: Big Developers Bankroll Schauwecker
THE CHANGE GANG: Schuster Scolds Skala; Miller on Cameras


URBAN ARCHAEOLOGIST: The Pause that Preserves
NATURAL WAYS: To Eliminate Mosquitoes


MARKET UPDATE: With Columbia Banker Tom Stone
ANNOUNCEMENTS: Libertarian forum; Council office hours

PARTING THOUGHTS: Kevin Walsh on Forrest Rose

OPENING THEME SONG: F-Troop -- Politically Incorrect



You just stick to watchdogging the County, okay?
-- CPS Asst. Superintendent Jack Jensen, to me

EMPTY RHETORIC: Belies County’s Poor Planning

By Mike Martin
For the Columbia Business Times

Readers with children who watch Sesame Street may remember a popular game: Which of these things is not like the others?

Conscientious taxpayers may be troubled to learn that County Hall likes to play this game, too. Read the following headlines and ask yourself, which of these things just doesn’t belong?

County officers rue tight purse: Drop in sales tax foreshadows fiscal constraint
– Columbia Daily Tribune, 7/3/2008

Fuel expense drives County to weigh tax
– Columbia Daily Tribune, 4/16/2008

Shortfall in sales taxes raises alarm: County hears dire report from economist
– Columbia Daily Tribune, 7/29/2007

County to acquire building: No specific plan for Johnston Paint site
– Columbia Daily Tribune, 7/23/2007

If you answered the fourth headline – about an ill conceived, six-figure acquisition that drained the county’s 2006 budget surplus in the midst of declining tax revenues – you’re right. It doesn’t belong. Not with a Sheriff’s department struggling against a tidal wave of crime. Not with cities and school districts that could sure use a share of the county’s tax dollars. Not with a flagging economy. And most importantly, not with the idea of sound financial planning.

Public School Playbook

Proving it’s never too late to jump aboard a bandwagon, Karen Miller – Boone County’s southern district commissioner and a re-election candidate – recently boarded the sound planning express with a quarter page “open letter” to her constituents that appeared in several local newspapers. “It is imperative that Boone County works closely with other counties, related agencies, utilities, etc. to develop long range plans and policies," she wrote.

But Boone County government has done little to promote cooperation or planning during Miller’s 16-year tenure. As if County Hall had ripped a page from the Columbia Public Schools playbook, county commissioners recently announced that they are short of money after spending big on projects like the $14 million, sales tax-financed office space expansion.

“Although the Boone County Courthouse expansion project is adding two floors...the county treasury might not have enough money to hire the custodian who would help keep the new building clean,” wrote Columbia Daily Tribune reporter Sara Semelka last month.

County Hall’s history of poor planning took another turn during the debate late last year about how to cover the cost of this year’s elections – about $913,000.00. Commissioners Pearson and Miller advocated raising property taxes. Northern district commissioner Skip Elkin disagreed. He suggested spending money from county reserves.

Citing “economic uncertainty,” Pearson told the Tribune a tax increase would be the better choice. “We aren’t certain what revenues are going to be coming in,” he explained. But just months earlier, Pearson and Miller had led the charge to blow most of County Hall’s 2006 surplus – about $700,000 – to buy the Johnston Paint Building, paying $20,000 over its appraised value with “no specific plan.”

Wealth Concentration

Rather than build and staff satellite offices in surrounding communities to handle routine county chores like property tax payments and courthouse filings, county commissioners have instead concentrated millions of tax dollars within a 2-block radius of the downtown courthouse.

The 2007 Johnston acquisition capped a three-year, $4 million, 30,000 square foot building-buying binge that included the former Jerry's Hair Studio – which our fickle commissioners sold a year later to attorney Bob Murray; the Ford, Parshall and Baker law offices, where a “For Rent – Contact the County Commission” sign has been hanging since the early Paleozoic Era; the old Lifestyles Furniture building that tenant Fera Technologies abandoned, sticking County Hall with over a quarter million dollars in unpaid rent; and the Guaranty Land Title building.

Despite Commissioner Miller’s oft-repeated explanation that it’s all part of some grand plan to expand court-related services, not one acquisition came with any plan. The Guaranty Land Title building was, in fact, the only property commissioners even "suggested for a county function," the Tribune reported, "but nobody knows what.”

The only visible result is a vast land and building reserve that has systematically deprived other communities and priorities of their fair share of tax dollars, from the Sheriff to public works; from mental health care to county road care; from Ashland to Centralia; from Rocheport to Harrisburg.

It has also apparently deprived the average county employee of decent wages. Calling this year’s one percent county employee raise “insulting,” county assessor Tom Schauwecker even weighed in. “Adding to Schauwecker’s frustration were recent capital acquisitions, such as the Johnston Paint and Lifestyles furniture buildings, which he said depleted reserve funds and did not go through the budgetary process,” the Columbia Tribune reported on January 4, 2008.

Did not go through the budgetary process? Sounds less like poor planning and more like a scandal to me.


KIDS QUESTION CANDIDATES: Assessor Candidate Barbara Bishop

Dear Ms. Wingert and Fifth Grade Class Members of Grant Elementary:

Thank you so much for the opportunity to participate in your Candidate Survey.

When I was your age during the 1960’s, several historical events occurred and I was inspired about how important it was to be informed and participate in our democracy through voting and public service. Several teachers whom I will never forget taught me Social Studies, History and Civics which were my favorite subjects.

I would encourage the class members to read the local newspaper on a regular basis as the topic of growth issues is an ongoing concern for most of Boone County along with most cities throughout the United States. Again, thank you this opportunity and especially, your interest in the upcoming elections.


Barbara G. Bishop
Candidate for Boone County Assessor
Democratic Primary August 5, 2008


How will you ALL work together to improve Columbia and Boone County?

First, and foremost, I will give respect and civility to all elected County Officials, support staff and taxpayers. I approach discussions with a willing spirit and make every effort to consider all sides that may be affected by a decision. I try to never leave a meeting without shaking hands, especially with someone I may have disagreed with on an issue. I’ll encourage a team effort and support the common goal of representing the People to the best of my ability.

My assessor’s office will be open and transparent to include sharing as much information as I can as to how decisions are made regarding appraisal methods for residential and commercial real estate and personal property.

Even though the only requirement for serving as Boone County Assessor is being a resident of Boone County, my education, work history and public service history should instill confidence in the other County Officials as to my being able to perform the duties of County Assessor. My experience and knowledge as a real estate appraiser for 13 years in Boone County and surrounding counties prepares me to perform the duties of appraising (i.e.: determining the value of property) thereby setting fair and balanced assessments that the county tax rates are applied to so that schools and road projects can have funds allocated.

Further, serving as Ashland’s elected 3rd Ward Alderwomen and having served as a Board Member on the Planning and Zoning Board and Park Board gives me insight as to government operations at all levels – State, County and City.

Why is Columbia continuing to build apartments/buildings when so many are vacant – like empty shopping centers – at this time?

Location, Location, Location. Boone County has experienced record growth during the past few years. Builders, developers and investors have tried to anticipate where growth will be based on peoples’ demand for where they want to live. These are called “housing trends” and typically go in cycles.

With the current economic factors such as higher transportation costs and the popularity of pedestrian travel, many workers will want to live closer to their place of employment, families will want to be close to schools, and most people will want to be close to services such as stores and recreation.

As to vacancy levels of apartments, developers speculated (an educated guess) that more population growth would increase the demand for rental housing therefore they built more apartment complexes in the growing areas. Most of the larger projects were planned some time ago, so developers will complete the projects and hope for increased demand thus getting a return on their investment (money).

Briefly, several factors occurred such as: not as many people needed rental housing because buying a home was affordable so they bought a home, some renters decided they wanted to live in newer apartments so they moved, and not as many people have moved to this community as was anticipated. Currently the housing trend appears to be returning to rental housing as there is not as much mortgage monies (loans for houses) available. The older apartments will have to update their facilities and/or offer other incentives to get people to move back to their neighborhoods.

As to commercial vacancies such as shopping centers, again growth in other locations has shifted the number of people, i.e. potential buyers, to another area of the city so retailers and other service businesses want to move to the newer areas. As I discussed before, people want to be close to all services so the services will typically go to the location of most of the population. Also, many times larger commercial buildings are built and designed for specific owners therefore a business may decide that it is more cost effective to build an entirely new building than renovate an older building.

Another impact on commercial development is road access so any change may affect the marketability of an existing property. A good example of this is the road changes at Highway 63 and Clarendon Road: traffic cannot go East onto Broadway like they used to but have to loop around the new retail center. The existing gas station on the southeast corner of Highway 63 and Broadway experienced or anticipated a negative effect on their business so they closed and the building is now vacant with “limited accessibility” which may impact the building’s marketability (to be purchased/sold).


RYAN FERGUSON/KEVIN CRANE SHOCKER: Key Witness Says Testimony Suppressed

A woman who found the body of Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt testified Wednesday that she would have told attorneys that the men later convicted of the killing were not the ones she saw near the body, but the defense attorney “didn’t ask.”

Shawna Ornt testified that she repeatedly told then-Boone County Prosecutor Kevin Crane that a man she saw near the body was neither Ferguson nor Erickson. She said Crane scared her, and she did not know what she was allowed to say to attorneys or in the trial. So she did not tell anyone else during the trial or the deposition.

“He made me feel like I was wrong,” Ornt said of Crane. And Ornt did not tell Ferguson’s attorney because she didn’t know whether she was allowed to.

READ ALL ABOUT IT in the Columbia Missourian


ASSESSOR BLOW OUT: Big Developers Bankroll Schauwecker

A nearly $18,000.00 fundraising blowout for incumbent county assessor Tom Schauwecker has Boone County campaign watchers wondering if the only thing green about the Schauwecker campaign is its signs and T-shirts (lol)!

Like so many recent city council races, the Boone County assessor's race has big-name development and construction interests lined up against a scrappy grassroots campaign running on high-octane enthusiasm -- and one-tenth the cash (and even less vacant land or empty retail centers for those giant green signs).

Bulldozing through the campaign like a rainforest clearcutting team (sorry, couldn't resist), Schauwecker's donors read like a who's who of Columbia's biggest developers: Greenwing Development (Tom Atkins); Little Dixie Construction (Bob Lemone); Fairway Construction and Fairway Management (low-income housing baron Jeff Smith); R. Anthony Development (Developer Rob Wolverton's firm); Elissa Odle, whose brother Jon runs Trittenbach Development, a builder of classy professional medical buildings; Emery Sapp and Sons, whose principals Billy and Elvin Sapp co-founded the Central Missouri Development Council and built two of Columbia's largest residential developments, Old Hawthorne and Bristol Lake; and developer William Coil, who once got caught up in -- you got it -- a CrossCreek-style tree-clearing controversy with former city councilperson Karl Kruse back in the day when Karl, as he would freely admit, was an outspoken tree-hugger.

"But Fifth Ward city councilman Karl Kruse today objected to the removal of additional trees. 'I think it is really just tragic. There's such a small part of that mature forest along Forum that remains, it seems a real shame that any more needs to be taken out. There's lots of open land for development,'" Kruse said.

Save the Trees? C'mon, Karl! That was just a one-time event that will never, ever happen in Columbia again. (And if you believe that, I have a tree growing in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you).

Giving to Schauwecker was so nice, in fact, that Columbia commercial real estate mogul Otto Maly did it twice: once through Maly Commercial Realty; and again personally.

Your fearless blogger, on the other hand, donated a few hundred bucks to Schauwecker's Democratic challenger, Barbara Bishop campaign, who is, ironically, moderate on most development issues.


Tree Clearing Scuffle

Wolverton Company
Jeff Smith Story
Columbia's Prominent Business Families

THE CHANGE GANG: Schuster Scolds Skala; Miller on Cameras

While I seldom agree with Mayor Darwin Hindman on most issues dear to his heart, I can sympathize with his impatience over the seemingly unending delays in the installation and operation of a system designed to discourage scofflaws whose activities are inherently hazardous to the public.
Missourian Columnist J. Karl Miller, Col, USMC (Ret.)

Disconcerting within the extended dialogue were the comments of council members Karl Skala and Paul Sturtz. Skala, under the guise of frankness, tried to argue that no commitment had been made to voters to build the projects, which were promoted during the campaign for approval of the capital improvements sales tax.
Columbia Business Times columnist Larry Schuster


URBAN ARCHAEOLOGIST: The Pause that Preserves

"With the recent demolition of the Guitar house on Blue Ridge Road and the near-demolition of the "shotgun" house on Garth Avenue, the Columbia Historic Preservation Commission has completed a policy that will cause a pause in the demolition process for buildings 50 years or older.

"The proposed policy, which was favorably reviewed by the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission last week, would allow the Historic Preservation Commission to receive notice of demolition permit applications for older structures and would give the commission 10 days to review the application."



NATURAL WAYS: To Eliminate Mosquitoes, from Miles Bader

Natural Mosquito Repellant for skin: 4 Parts glycerin to 1 part eucalyptus oil

OR 1 ounce of citronella oil (from health food store) and 1 drop of corn oil

OR 3 cups rubbing alcohol + 1.5 cups red cedar wood shavings + 1/2 cup
eucalyptus leaves. Mix well in bowl; cover; let sit for 6 days; strain spray liquid through cheesecloth.

"Numero Uno Mosquito and Cockroach Repellant": Catnip placed in little packs around the house. "Catnip contains the oil nepetalactone, which is at least 10 times more powerful than any commercial mosquito spray,"
Bader says.

Repel flies with fresh basil. "Basil will repel almost any type of flying insect," Bader writes.

Buy Bat and Bird Houses. "Most garden supply stores carry them, for about $30.00," Bader writes. "Bats will eliminate thousands of unwanted insects every night and birds will handle the same job during the day."

Repel mosquitoes with Bounce Fabric Softener Sheets. A common site in Florida -- people stick them on their clothing!

Plant castor beans. Castor plants will repel mosquitoes and moles too! They are naturally averse to the ricinine oil that, when extracted and distilled, is a natural poison.

Cultivate dragonflies with bamboo plants. One dragonfly will consume at least 100 mosquitoes in 30 minutes, and eat their larvae as well, Bader writes.

Sprigs of Sage or Rosemary on hot barbecue coals will keep all flying insects away for the duration of the barbecue.

Gambusia affinis, a fish that thrives in yard ponds, also thrive on mosquito larvae.

From 1001 All Natural Secrets to a Pest-Free Property by Dr. Miles H. Bader.

MARKET UPDATE: With Columbia Banker Tom Stone

Get ready for a wild ride. Fannie/Freddie bailouts, instability in the market place, rising energy costs and don't forget an election soon…these are the makings for some very big fireworks. Stay tuned to a trusted source for what is really happening outside of the media hype.

Use this link to view the newsletter

Tom Stone
The Bank of Missouri
Asst. Vice President


READERS RITE: Write, Right

Michael - Just becoming familiar with the "Columbia Heartbeat"...not really sure how it works...wondering if you write about politics only...or if you would promote a new "business" in the area, Fun Doodles.
Either way, thanks. Have a wonderful day!
-- Mindy Durham, Columbia

Just found your blog - this must be a well kept secret in town. Keep up the good work, loved your piece on Henry Lane!
-- Queenbusick

It is Cathy Richards who is running for Boone County Public Administrator, not Kathy with a K.
-- anonymous


Hi Mike, I wanted to invite you to a Libertarian Party candidate forum we are having this coming Friday at Stoney Creek Inn. Below is a link with a little more information (time and such) if you are interested. -- John Schultz

"Community Voices: Healthcare - What We Have and What We Want"
A dialogue about health care in our community
Monday, July 216 p.m. - 8:45 p.m.
Columbia Public Library Friends Room*
Refreshments served.*
Sponsored by the Columbia Human Rights Commission, Missouri Jobs with Justice, Missouri Association for Social Welfare and others.*
Please contact Nanette at 573-874-7487

if you need transportation assistance or disability accommodations as soon as possible.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Anniversary Celebration

Saturday, July 31, 2008
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Activity & Recreation Center - ARC (1701 W. Ash Street)
Join the community celebration!*

Candidate forum on health care at noon*
Power Soccer demonstration*
Live music*
Community agency fair*
Book signing with contributing author Deanna Quietwater Noriega: Behind Our Eyes (anthology of 27 authors with disabilities)

Limited, accessible transportation is available on a first come, first served basis. Make reservations early by calling Services for Independent Living at 573-874-1646. Other accommodations available uponrequest.

Sponsors:* Great Plains ADA Center Americans with Disabilities Act Information and Technical Assistance,
toll free call 1-800-949-4232* Services for Independent Living, 573-874-1646 V, 573-874-4121

"Unnatural inequity making us sick?"
Documentary and Dialogue

6 p.m. - 8:45 p.m. @ Columbia/Boone County Dept. of Health, 1005 W. Worley Shown in succession on these dates:

* Wednesday, September 3* Wednesday, September 24* Thursday, October 8* Thursday, October 22

* A seven-part documentary series exploring racial and socioeconomic inequalities in health, created to change our public discourse on health* View and engage in candid, facilitated dialogue with fellow citizens. * Refreshments served.* Sponsored by the City of Columbia Human Rights Commission, Columbia/Boone County Dept. of Health* Please contact Nanette at 573-874-7487 or
if you need disability accommodations.

COFFEEHOUSE CONVERSATIONS with 4th Ward Councilman Jerry Wade

This Saturday, July 19, I will be at the Rendezvous Coffeehouse from 10:30a to 12:00n to talk to anyone who would like to visit with me. The Rendezvous Coffeehouse is at 3304 Broadway Business Park Ct., which is on the south side of West Broadway west of HyVee.

A Special Council Meeting will be held Tuesday, July 22, 2008 at 6:00 p.m. to give all citizens and interested parties an opportunity to be heard in relation to determining the priorities for getabout infrastructure projects.


WHERE? The Coffee Ground, Broadway Shops, 2703 E. Broadway (North side of Broadway just West of Hwy 63)

WHEN? 8:30-10:30 a.m.

DATES? Saturday, July 19

WHO? Everyone is welcome. Drop in and share your questions, opinions, ideas, and concerns!


PARTING THOUGHTS: Kevin Walsh on Forrest Rose what can i say but that it took practically this whole fucking town to replace forrest in my life... and i didn't see him that much when he was around.... the guy who taught me the meaning of "long time gone."
-- Kevin Walsh, Musicologist on Forrest Rose, Musician
(Forrest Rose Park, next to Mojo's, opened on July 4th) _______________________________________________

Mike Martin
Member: National Press Club

The Columbia Heart Beat
Circulation: Roughly 4,000

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